The fourth quarter is a critical time to boost profits and end the year on a high note in any year. It is also when many consumers open up their wallets and start spending more on festive food, luxury goods, and gifts for their loved ones (and themselves!) For some types of businesses, the fourth quarter can account for up to 75% of their annual sales. In challenging years like 2020, not only does the fourth-quarter shopping period hold more importance, but it also offers companies a chance to recoup some of the losses of the past months.
This year, all indicators show that many consumers are ready to buy more in the fourth quarter. Using September of 2020 as an indicator, many experts predict that a variety of retailers and service businesses may be well-positioned to benefit from pent-up demand after months of austerity.
According to Kimberly Amadeo in The Balance,
“The most recent U.S. Retail Sales Report shows that retail sales continued to rebound in September, rising 1.9% since August, and 5.4% since this time last year. Total sales for July through September 2020 were up 3.6% year over year. Sales have been increasing since June after record lows were seen in the spring during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.1″
The events of 2020 showed us how business could change dramatically in just a few months. Consumers became more dependent on digital communications and more open to all kinds of digital commerce, including food delivery, online medicine, and curbside pickup. This means that almost any type of business or retailer can now grow in cost-effective ways by embracing a wide range of digital marketing tools and tactics. During the shelter-in-place order of 2020, online shopping skyrocketed, with 50% of U.S. adults saying they purchased more online than before. The pandemic restrictions motivated many reluctant shoppers to try (and keep using) online shopping tools.
This shift to digital can be good news for small businesses. The wide adoption of digital technologies makes it possible for large and small businesses to get immediate results from tools like email marketing and online advertising, even for companies that lack a sophisticated website.
In fact, with so much change in the air, this is the perfect time for Lancaster County businesses to create (or improve) digital marketing strategies to help their companies get the most out of 2020 and beyond. Moreover, the holiday buying cycle continues to deliver the promise of a robust fourth quarter. From mid-October through early January, each year an extended holiday season motivates consumers to buy holiday gifts. This time of year also encourages people to bake more, cook more, buy more cookware, entertain, improve the look of their home with décor and furnishing, spend more time on personal care, or dress up their wardrobe. In fact, the holiday season provides a limited-time incentive to buy all kinds of goods and services.
This has never been truer than it is in 2020. After months of austerity and isolation, Lancaster County customers are ready for a little seasonal cheer. However, in any year, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to foster feelings of positivity and optimism. Shoppers are showing us that they are ready to celebrate local economies and start shopping locally.
Local is more important than ever. Even though it sometimes seems like big online retailers get all the business, it is not always true. Barron’s has reported that shipping resources are stressed because of the surge in online orders, and major retailers like Walmart and Amazon have not yet been able to staff up to meet the demand. Because of longstanding driver shortages, this challenge will continue long after the pandemic is over. Barron’s reports;
“The nation’s transportation network is already strained, given the major disruption from Covid and other longstanding factors like driver shortages. That could lead to higher costs for shipping companies, retailers, and—possibly—consumers.”
Importantly, during the holiday season, quick delivery is everything. That means this is a perfect time for local retailers to highlight their inventory and the immediate availability of goods. Slow or delayed shipments from big online retailers may give local consumers the incentive they need to lean more heavily on local retailers. This holiday season, shopping may bring different types of opportunities to Lancaster County businesses.
As more and more consumers become frustrated with shipping delays, the fourth quarter is often the perfect time to focus on acquiring new local customers and set your business up for continuing success in the next year.
While getting customers to switch has been a challenge in previous years, customers are now more willing than ever to try something new. According to a McKinsey & Company October 2020 survey,
“With continued pressure on household income, consumers are trying new brands and channels, seeking both better value and convenience. Compared to last year, consumers are more than three times as likely to trade down to lower-cost brands or retailers when shopping a standard basket of goods.”
Of course, consumers are not the only ones who have been hunkering down in the past months. Many businesses have had to close or reduce hours, conduct business digitally, or reduce capacity at their locations. Whether a company is still operating under restrictions or not, the fourth quarter is a great time to reach out to customers and “reset” customer and client relationships.
What can small businesses do to reach their local customers? ‘Tis the season to send out e-newsletters, email updates, promote updated hours or offerings, offer “thank you” deals, give loyalty discounts, preview sales, talk about new products, or offer special hours for loyal customers.
No matter which messages an organization chooses, holiday cheer is an effective way to humanize the business, allowing companies to spread goodwill and joy.
Start Marketing for the Holidays now
Whether a business reading this in November or July, the time to start your holiday marketing is now. That is because the best holiday marketing includes both long-term and last-minute components. Companies that take the time build digital marketing into their plans all year round are better prepared to take advantage of digital holiday strategies. However, effective strategies can also be applied to firms who are just starting out with digital marketing efforts.
The first step is for the organization to think about how their consumers buy their type of product or service. For example, restaurants or hair salons with limited capacity can focus on selling gift certificates for future visits. Of course, gift certificates make sense all year long, but they can also be promoted as last-minute gifts. Emails, digital ads, or videos are all effective ways to encourage this type of gift-giving.
Additionally, with some quick planning, businesses can have tremendous sales on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Using LNP Media Group’s suite of digital marketing tools, companies can create curbside pickup deals, online offers, extended hours for less crowded shopping, online-only deals, pay-per-click ads, and unique landing pages. This enables organizations to create promotions and offers that can run for a day, an afternoon, or even an hour.
While a survey by Service Management Group reported that 42% of respondents said that they plan to start their holiday shopping earlier this year, Lancaster County businesses still have time to leverage holiday sales. This survey reports:
“Holiday shopping will start early and be dominated by digital – When you consider the double-digit growth of digital holiday sales in 2019 and how the pandemic is impacting the in-store experience, it’s not surprising that 3 in 4 respondents plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year. When asked to compare the timing of their holiday shopping to last year, 42 percent of respondents said they’ll start shopping earlier. With 61 percent of respondents planning to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving, we found just 15 percent of respondents plan to stock up on Black Friday and only seven percent plan to take advantage of Cyber Monday. When we compare the timing of the two groups of shoppers, 62 percent of online shoppers plan to start shopping earlier whereas 44 percent of in-store shoppers indicate they’ll take advantage of Black Friday sales or do most of their shopping in December.”
Thinking beyond Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and even Cyber Monday can help businesses drive sales through the end of the year and beyond. After all, holiday shopping no longer stops on Christmas Eve. Consumers are now showing a growing interest in post-holiday sales when they look to use their gift money and savings on purchases for themselves and their homes.
Ready to start making digital a part of your holiday marketing? If you are looking for specific ideas to help your business boost sales this month and beyond, take a look at our list of holiday marketing strategies developed with Lancaster County businesses in mind.
Thanksgiving Digital Marketing Ideas for Lancaster County Businesses
Every year, Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. This gives businesses plenty of time to ramp up for holiday marketing. Consumers preparing for Thanksgiving are looking for food and cooking supplies, but they also shop for clothes, personal care, linens, furniture, home décor, even carpets, and rugs. Any home furnishing store can tell you that many shoppers request delivery before Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving also kicks off a string of annual sales that have become part of the holiday tradition for many shoppers. Black Friday used to kick off the morning after Thanksgiving. But today, many stores open at midnight, the evening of Thanksgiving, or run “early Black Friday” sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Pre-Thanksgiving shoppers look online before they buy. In fact, Google reports that 49% of these early-bird shoppers research before they buy.
What can Lancaster County businesses do to get their share of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers?
1. Serve up Search Engine Marketing or SEM
Not too long ago, SEM was a term used to describe pay-per-click text ads that appeared in search results. Today the definition has become broader and refers to a set of advertising opportunities offered by search engines and most often covers ad platforms provided by Google, the search engine used by almost 90% of all searches. In addition to paid search listings designed to drive website traffic, SEM now includes various ads or sponsored listings that appear on search engines and affiliated sites. Using search engine databases, marketers can place display ads on other sites. Retargeted ads, which send follow up ads to people who have visited a specific page on a website, is often considered a part of search engine marketing.
Businesses who want to use SEM to promote Thanksgiving sales or items can use pay-per-click ads, display ads sent to people who have searched for related terms, and even send retargeted ads to site visitors, offering them exclusive offers on the products they previously viewed on the website.
SEM also offers marketer the opportunity to include in-ad countdown clocks that highlight the limited time offers or sales or count down the time until your next deal, event, or Black Friday offers.
2. Gobble up Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing includes organic (unpaid) posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. It also offers paid ads or boosted posts. Social media is a popular way to share ideas and communicate with friends and family, so it is a natural place to place ads to reach people as they’re planning for the holiday. Most social media platforms allow companies to upload your customer lists and market to them (and people like them), but businesses can also choose their audience based on geography and interests such as Thanksgiving, How to Cook a Turkey, Home Décor, Best Sports TV and more.
Most social media platforms are also video-friendly. They can be a great place to post videos of a store, videos showing pre-sale walkthrough, or show employees explaining some of the deals and specials they are offering during the holidays.
Some ad platforms of some social media platforms also allow companies to promote multiple items in a scrolling catalog format, so advertisers do not have to stick to just one item per ad.
3. Video Brings Your Business to Life
When it comes to the holidays, customers want information and inspiration, and nothing does that better than a video. Videos can go on corporate websites or be used in ads or promoted posts. They can even be included in email marketing campaigns!
Working with a local professional video team has become an easy way to show customers how to cook a turkey, develop a menu, or find the best new cooking gadgets for this Thanksgiving. Videos are also a great place to share table-setting ideas, explain how to create a better game-viewing environment, share ideas on what to wear on Thanksgiving, give makeup and hair tips, post tutorials for kids’ crafts, explain how to get the family motivated for a pre-feast game of tag football, and more.
This is also a great time of year to produce a video that features team members giving thanks to customers for their support during these difficult times. After all, Thanksgiving is all about gratitude.
4. Send a Cornucopia of Emails
When it comes to emails, one size does not fit all. The good news is that sending highly targeted messages does not have to be complicated. Companies who work with an experienced email marketing resource like LNP Media Group can launch and analyze email marketing campaigns quickly and efficiently.
Selecting either the firm’s customer email list or by choosing to send to other databases, Lancaster County businesses can send targeted emails to a variety of audiences. Loyal customers may receive thank-you emails that invite them to take advantage of early access for sales and offers. Lapsed customers may get a “we miss you” email that includes a coupon or offer. A potential customer could receive messages promoting pre-thanksgiving sales, promotions, or even offer limited-time offers.
Additionally, today’s emails are more responsive than ever, so they can easily navigate on mobile devices or laptops. It is also easy to include videos, QR codes, or bar codes that enable businesses to track the source of your sales down to the email.
5. We are Grateful for Geo-Targeted Ads
Geofencing is a super-targeted way to reach Lancaster County consumers based on where they are. Marketers can send an ad or marketing message to consumers’ mobile devices after entering a predefined geographic area. These spots can be as small and well-defined as a parking lot, inside a store, or a competitor’s location. Using geo-location, companies can deliver promotions, ads, coupons, and more to mobile phones.
Want some examples of how this works? Using geo-targeted ads, local grocery stores can deliver holiday specials to shoppers, even as they are shopping in a competitor’s store. Retailers who want to attract people shopping down the street can send one-day sale offers to customers when they are in the area. Restaurants can send coupons to people while they attend a nearby event. Auto dealers can send limited-time deals to shoppers while they look at vehicles in a competitor’s lot.
6. Digital Makes Holiday Curbside Pickups Easy
Curbside pickup options have become standard for many types of services. Do your customers know that your business now offers this type of service? It is important to get the word out if you have created online options for curbside pickup orders.
Whether promoting takeout food, veterinary services, or oil changes, curbside service can make a business more accessible, convenient, and safe.
7. Don’t Forget About Print this Thanksgiving!
LNP Media Group offers a range of holiday options and special editions in print. The Thanksgiving edition of LNP is the largest and most anticipated newspaper of the year, stuffed full of holiday deals, coupons, and sales. Lancaster County businesses know that this annual tradition is a favorite with local customers, and print can work in tandem with digital for an even bigger impact.
Black Friday: Retail’s Biggest Day of the Year
When it comes to bargain shoppers, Lancaster County has come to expect the biggest and best deals on Black Friday. As retail traditions continue to change, more Black Friday sales are happening in-store AND on digital media. While crowded sales have been part of the holiday tradition in previous years, when health concerns loom, it is time to develop creative ways to allow customers and clients to access the best deals without facing crowds. Online sales may also bring in more shoppers who were unable (or unwilling) to brave the crowds in years past.
Here are some ways businesses in Lancaster County can make the most of Black Friday using digital media.
1. Combine Search Engine Marketing with F.O.M.O.!
When joining the crowds is not an option, more and more consumers suffer from F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out.) Smart search engine marketing (SEM) ideas can tap into consumers’ need to be a part of the action by posting scarcity counts such as “Only Four Left” or “Only Two Hours Left!
“Don’t want to mess with shipping? Not only can digital marketers program their ads by analyzing search patterns and purchase intent, but they can also limit ad delivery geographically so it’s easy for customers to drive to your location to pick up their purchase.
2. Email Marketing is a Black Friday Staple
Email marketing has been used to promote Black Friday deals for years. Today, new technologies and integrations allow companies to automate countdown emails (“Only 24 hours until the sale starts…”), reminder emails (“Don’t forget, sale ends in two hours”), and abandoned cart emails (“Did you forget something?”).
Best of all, LNP Media Group can offer local lists and help businesses access qualified email lists based on demographics and purchase intent. That means that companies can send their targeted offers directly to the inboxes of potential new customers.
3. Promote Your Deals on Social Media
Social media users expect to be notified of upcoming deals and promotions, especially when it comes to Black Friday. This is a great time for local businesses to invest in Facebook and Instagram ads.
4. Create In-store Excitement With a Walkthrough Video
Want to show your customers your best products? Want to create excitement and anticipation for a visit or online sales? Consider a professionally shot walkthrough video explaining Black Friday deals and showing customers all the great stuff they can access. If health concerns are an issue, it is smart for businesses to use videos to explain what they are doing to keep shoppers safe.
5. 2020 is the Year of the Curbside Pickup
For all those customers who do not want to brave the crowds, curbside pickup is a great way to marry online purchases with retail locations. Curbside pickups make it easy to fulfill orders without investing in complicated shipping programs.
Small Business Saturday: Local Business’s Biggest Day of the Year
In past years, local shopping venues have been swamped with Lancaster County shoppers coming out to support their local retailers, restaurants, and businesses. However, the “new normal” requires companies to think beyond in-store sales to keep customers engaged and coming back.
1. Search Engine Marketing for Local Businesses
Many local businesses think search engine marketing is too “big” for their companies, but search marketing is the new phone book. It’s where people go to find shops, services, and food that are “near me.” That is why SEM is such an effective way to promote Small Business Saturday efforts. A good SEM campaign will not only drive people to a business listing, but it can also focus on the uniqueness of a company’s products or services, feature photos of their staff, and even allow organizations to donate a percent of the take to a favorite charity.
2. Local Loves LancasterOnline
When it comes to local advertising in Lancaster County, LancasterOnline is one of the most “local” digital tools you can use. LancasterOnline offers high-impact display ads surrounded by local news, which means the ad message is delivered to the people Lancaster County businesses care about most – local shoppers. Marketers can ask an LNP Media Group rep to demo the reveal ad, a large format ad that appears above the digital masthead. Sticky anchors stay on the screen even as the user scrolls down. Other high impact formats include skyscraper ads and HTML5 animated ads.
3. Find Your Community on Facebook
When it comes to small communities and groups with shared interests, Facebook is king. Although geographic targeting is available on most social media platforms, Facebook is a favorite place for friends and families to stay in touch. Promoting your local company on Facebook, along with Small Business Saturday offers, special hours, online options, and sales make perfect business sense.
4. Highlight Your Local Presence with Video
Smart local businesses use video to introduce local customers to their business and their neighborhoods! Using LNP Media Group’s professional video production services, companies can show customers their store, their deals, introduce sales people, and even feature customer testimonials.
Best of all, videos can be used on corporate websites, in digital ads, or in promoted posts on social media. They can even be included in email marketing campaigns.
5. Lancaster Loves Print
Lancaster County loves print media. LNP helps customers look for information, offers, and ads from local businesses. LNP usually offers special Small Business Saturday sections or magazines, often part of a holiday marketing package. Ask your LNP Media Group representative for details.
6. Email Marketing Allows Business to Target Local Shoppers
Want to reach people who are most likely to buy local? Need to limit your message by geography or interests? As a targeted email provider, LNP Media Group can offer clients the option to add or exclude a smaller list of emails from a targeted eblast. These tools may be helpful for organizations that want to target subsets of new users, existing customers, or lapsed customers.
Is Your Business Ready to Participate in Cyber Monday?
In 2019 Cyber Monday sales exceeded online sales for Black Friday, according to a report by Adobe. Many of 2019’s sales offered the option to purchase items online and pick up in-store. Although this day seems to be dominated by big players, local businesses can prosper as well.
Any business that is interested in getting more Millennial customers in Lancaster County should consider investing in e-commerce capabilities. After all, Millennials make 60% of their purchases online, according to a recent survey.
Wondering what you can do to make Cyber Monday another big sales day for your organization?
1. Cyber Monday and SEM
Black Friday isn’t the only day that triggers consumers’ F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out.) Search engine marketing (SEM) is a great way to keep consumers updated on inventory counts such as “Only Two Days Remaining” or “Only One Hour Left!” It is also a great way to create online urgency by promoting one-day offers.
And remember that if businesses limit their offers to contained geographic areas, they can ask customers to drive to a local location to pick up their purchases.
2. Combine Cyber and Local with LancasterOnline Campaigns!
There are so many ways to promote Cyber Monday deals on LancasterOnline. And any ad that is placed on this local news and entertainment site is clickable so that potential customers can click through to the purchase page.
3. Cyber Monday Gets Even More Clickable with Email Marketing
Whether a company chooses to create a unique email campaign or sponsor one of LNP Media Group’s e-newsletters, these businesses can reach thousands of online shoppers on Cyber Monday. Sponsoring an e-newsletter ad is an easy way to broadcast Cyber Monday deals, and the email ad will be clickable so that Lancaster County shoppers can click through right to the sponsor’s website and offers.
Attract Last-Minute Christmas Shoppers
The days leading up to Christmas are the perfect time to get in front of last-minute shoppers. Google reports that the average American does about 53% of shopping the week before Christmas. There are many great ways to take advantage of the rush.
1. Deck the Halls with Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great way to grab consumers’ attention and share information about the latest deals and specials. Businesses that want to ensure they reach the right people at the right time should create social media ads. Facebook, Instagram, and others have sophisticated targeted tools that allow companies to find their best customers based on geography, interests, and behaviors that are often very detailed, including some purchase history. Social media also allow advertisers to run promotions quickly, even for just one day.
2. Email Marketing Ideas
LNP Media Group offers sponsorships on a variety of daily new emails that are delivered to local shoppers. We are also a targeted email provider, which means Lancaster County businesses can add or exclude a smaller list of emails from a targeted eblast. This may be helpful for organizations that want to target subsets of new users, existing customers, or lapsed customers.
3. Geo-Targeting Offers Precise Delivery Opportunities
When a business needs to reach customers in a very small, defined area, geofencing can help. This ad tools allows companies to send promotions, ads, coupons, and more to mobile phones when the consumer enters a predefined geofenced site. Organizations can get the attention of last-minute shoppers by sending geo-targeted ads to consumers when they are at the mall or in a competitor’s store. Some retailers send offers to people nearby to drive foot traffic to their location.
4. Curbside Pickup Makes Last-Minute Shopping Easy
Having a curbside pickup in place makes digital shopping faster and easier for customers. Make sure your customers know that they can placed an order online, for convenient pickup later.
And remember, when shoppers begin running out of shopping time in the week leading up to Christmas, curbside pickup can offer a valuable shortcut that consumers appreciate.
Ring in New Year’s Eve!
New Year’s Eve is a big party night. Whether a business sells food, party supplies, event spaces, or rental limos, digital marketing can help Lancaster County companies be a part of the festivities.
“Millennials love to splurge on experiences. They’re often more willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on making memories than on buying tangible things. New Year’s Eve is no exception. For a fun night out to celebrate the start of 2020, millennials (defined here as those 23 to 38) are willing to spend an average of $228.10, according to a recent survey from ticketing site Eventbrite. The poll was conducted online from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, 2019, with 2,086 U.S. adults 18 or older. Even though millennials are known to spend less than previous generations, the amount they’re willing to put toward a New Year’s outing is about $42 more than the average amount Americans as a whole say they’re willing to spend, $185.60.”
Millennials are also the group that is most likely to start their shopping process online. So if a business wants to reach Millennials getting ready for New Year’s Eve, this is a great time to invest in digital marketing.
1. Start the Celebration with SEM Ideas
Use search engine marketing to promote end-of-year sales. It is an excellent time to run promotions urging Lancaster County Millennials to spend their newly acquired gift cards or exchange unwanted gifts. Create a special landing page for deals shoppers can get when they use gift card sales or do returns.
2. Social Media Marketing Ideas
Social media offers the chance to use photos, videos, or slideshows to showcase a business. Whether the company is offering special New Year’s Eve dinners, snack ideas, the latest fashions, bags, or games for kids, social media can help. Create ads, place posts in feeds, utilize Facebook Marketplace, or create live events like Facebook Live to notify their customers of sales, limited-supply, or special deals.
3. Email Marketing Ideas
Want to fill up a venue? Need to collect RSVPs for your upcoming event? Email marketing offers dozens of ways to communicate event details, share event pages, and even collect RSVPs. Emails also provide easy ways to upsell existing customers by reminding them of add-ons or accessories to complement their initial purchases.
4. Curbside Pickup Ideas
More and more people are celebrating New Year’s Eve at home, so this is the perfect time to offer curbside pickup of meals, catering, party supplies, or even clean up services. Make sure to promote the fact that your business makes it easy and safe to shop via curbside pickup.
Are You Ready to Get Digital This Holiday Season?
The world is changing fast, and digital is becoming a more critical part of the shopping journey. From researching future purchases to buying something in-store, apps, websites, emails, and social media all play a role in most shoppers’ consideration process.
More and more, even old-fashioned holiday shopping includes digital components. Consumers look online to see when the tree farm is open, where Santa is appearing, where to get cookie decorating supplies, how to get tickets for the Polar Express, and even to find hand-knitted stockings for the hearth. The fact is, whether customers are looking for old-fashioned nostalgia or the latest electronics, they start their search online.
Whether a company has a digital marketing program in place or if they need to build it from scratch, LNP Media Group has the digital marketing expertise needed to build and maintain robust digital marketing programs designed to increase our clients’ sales without killing their margins.
Make an appointment to talk with our experienced digital marketing team. We have a wide range of programs that make it easy for your business to build a website, improve your SEO, market on search engines, create professional videos, begin email marketing, and more.